Tag Archives: fantasy

Read A Magical Melody #FREE – Until June 3

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Until June 3, my short fantasy story is available free to read in Inkitt’s Epic Worlds competition. A Magical Melody is the first installment in A Symphony of Magic, a five part story starting with four shorts and culminating in a full-length novel.

To start you off, the first few paragraphs are below, then follow the link at the end to read the conclusion – or jump straight to the link to read the whole story on Inkitt’s site. If you enjoy the story, please do vote on the Inkitt site – just login via facebook and click the heart at the bottom of the story page. I am currently 20th and I need to stay at 25 or better to make the finals! Your vote counts.

Avram blinked and checked another drawer. Also, empty. No, he’d used the top one, hadn’t he? The bare, wooden bottom stared back when he opened the top drawer again. He ran a finger across the wood. Nothing. No illusion. No sign anyone had been here. Rawellen’s perfume overwhelmed any other scents. He glanced at her over his shoulder.

‘It’s not here. Did you take it?’

On the far side of the room, the colour rushed from Rawellen’s cheeks, leaving her face porcelain white beneath perfectly coiffed, midnight hair. She looked like a child’s doll, a frightened doll. Beside her, Councillor Eiman fidgeted with the lace on his sleeves and glanced from Avram to Rawellen and back.

Faint fingers of panic squirmed in Avram’s gut. If Rawellen hadn’t taken the sheet music… His gaze unfocused as he ran through the possibilities.

‘What do you mean gone?’ Eiman slipped a finger inside the collar of his black frock coat. Sweat trickled down his face.

The silly councillor couldn’t have taken the scores. He had the magical abilities of a toadstool–and an unfortunate resemblance to one too. Really, that tight coat did nothing to flatter his rotund figure.

Avram wrinkled his nose. ‘I mean, gone.’

‘But…but the orchestra is assembled!’

Snorting, Avram pushed the drawer of the mahogany sideboard closed hard enough to rattle the crystal goblets on their shelves. Better for Rawellen to deal with the odious little man.

‘My dear councillor.’ True to form, Rawellen released her death grip on her skirts to ease Eiman into chair and stooped to coo into his ear, turning the full force of her devastating beauty against him. ‘I’m sure we can resolve this matter in short order.’

What? Did the woman not understand “gone”? Avram waved his hands to catch her attention. If she were assuming that he’d mislaid the sheet music and would momentarily remember where to find them, Avram was sure she’d be sorely disappointed. The scores were gone, vanished without a trace, and with no explanation aside from theft.

Without any change in expression, Rawellen drew Eiman back to his feet. ‘On second thoughts, I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to dismiss the orchestra. Or have them perform something else, a piece from last season perhaps?’

‘But…’ The councillor’s protests were cut off as Rawellen bundled him out the carved door, closing it behind him and leaning against the wood.

‘Gone? Totally gone?’ Her impressive bosom heaved, threatening to spill from the lace-edged neckline of her gown. ‘The whole score? Which one?’

Avram pushed his pince-nez further up his nose and cleared his throat. Why did she have to be so damn beautiful? It was distracting, and it was obvious that she knew it–knew it and used it. ‘Both scores. Both copies.’ The words emerged a dry croak.

Rawellen’s breath whooshed from her in an explosive burst. ‘The spell-annotated copies as well?’

Avram nodded. What a disaster. So much for the rigid protocols designed to ensure that spell-annotated copies didn’t make it to the public arena. Then again, it wasn’t theft they were intended to prevent, but human error. It was too much to hope some music buff had stolen them for personal enjoyment, some ordinary musician to whom the notations would be meaningless. No, it was someone who had the talent to break in here, without a doubt. Heads would roll, and Avram’s would not be one of them.

‘Who? Who would have done this? This is a disaster!’ Rawellen’s voice climbed impressively into the upper registers as effortless as only a trained vocalist’s could do. Her hands rose as well, waving to and fro in carefully orchestrated histrionics. She began to pace, twitching her blue skirts out of her way with sharp, furious jerks.

Once a performer, always a performer. Rolling his eyes, Avram tried to straighten his own rumpled white coat while he waited for her dramatics to end.

Rawellen’s rant wound down as she strode across the room yet again with the heels of her blue boots sinking into the thick, emerald carpet. At the brocade drapes hanging against the far wall, she spun and strode back again. Her skirts brushed against the couches with each agitated pass.

‘I am well aware of the ramifications,’ Avram said, seizing the moment as she took a breath. As I should be. I wrote the damn thing.

Her fingers fluttered, an affectation of nerves, and smoothed the black-striped silk of her bodice. After a moment, she settled to toying with the black ribbon tied below her cleavage. Avram dragged his gaze away. No point in going down that road again. Beautiful women like her had far better prospects than jug-eared, rumpled composers like him. And would she ever grow as bored with her tantrums as he was?

Ceasing her pacing, she turned with her eyes boring into him and dark eyebrows arched. ‘Have you seen her the last few days?’

‘I…’ His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. If only. His bed was cold without her. With a sigh, he ran fingers through his hair and grimaced. There wasn’t as much up there as there used to be. ‘It wasn’t her, Rawellen. Only a magister can read the spell annotations or break the wards for that matter, and you know it. Only a powerful musician could do the latter. Morgane is no magister. Least of all a powerful one.’

Rawellen glanced at his hair and arched one eyebrow even further.

He snatched his hand away and scowled, regretting the expression almost immediately. It did nothing to improve a face with a nose too big and ears that stuck out like an elephant’s.

‘When, Avram? When did you last see her?’

Follow the link to read the conclusion to A Magical Melody. Don’t forget to vote if you like it.

Thank you!

THREE REALMS: 3 Book Fantasy Boxset for the Bargain Price of 99c – save 90% off RRP!



I’m excited to announce the release of this boxset by Evolved Publishing, on sale for a limited time for 99c. 

The set is a collaboration between myself and fellow fantasy authors Michael Dadich and Dionne Lister and includes:


  • THE SILVER SPHERE by Michael Dadich;
  • CONFRONTING THE DEMON by Ciara Ballintyne; and
  • SHADOWS OF THE REALM by Dionne Lister.

Buying all these books separately would normally cost you $9.97 – how can you say no to 99c? Buy it now from Apple iBooks or Smashwords!

About the Boxset:


THE SILVER SPHERE by Michael Dadich (Multiple Award-Winner)

Shelby Pardow never imagined she could kill someone. All she wants to do is hide from her troubled father… when she is teleported to awaiting soldiers on the planet Azimuth. Here she is not a child, but Kin to one of the six Aulic Assembly members whom Malefic Cacoethes has drugged and imprisoned. He seeks to become dictator of this world (and then Earth by proxy).

His father, Biskara, is an evil celestial entity, tracked by the Assembly with an armillary device, The Silver Sphere. With the Assembly now deposed, Biskara directs Malefic and the Nightlanders to their strategic targets. Unless….

Can Shelby find the other Kin, and develop courage and combat skills? Can the Kin reassemble in time to release or replace the Assembly, overthrowing Malefic and restraining Biskara?
 

~~~~~ 

CONFRONTING THE DEMON by Ciara Ballintyne

The powerful wizard, Alloran, lurks in the stinking muck of the back alleys of the city of Ehsan. Posing as a common labourer, he struggles to hide from his lover, his best friend, the authorities – and his past.

But beneath the garbage of the backstreets he discovers a new horror: a trail of gruesome bodies, gnawed on by demons, and left gift-wrapped for him to find. Someone is brutally murdering people from his past, and threatening to finish with his lover, Gisayne. What dark secret from Alloran’s youth cripples his ability to fight back?

In a world where hellcats stalk the shadows, and a flaming demon lays waste to the citadel of the wizards, Alloran must risk losing himself to a powerful addiction, or abandon Gisayne to hell.

~~~~~

SHADOWS OF THE REALM by Dionne Lister

Bronwyn and Blayke are two strangers being drawn into the same war. Their world is facing invasion from the Third Realm. While they move unknowingly toward each other, they are watched, hunted, and sabotaged. When the Dragon God interferes, it seems their world, Talia, will succumb to the threat. Can they learn enough of the tricks of the Realms before it’s too late, or will everything they love be destroyed?

The young Realmists’ journey pushes them away from all they’ve known, to walk in the shadows toward Vellonia, city of the dragons, where an even darker shadow awaits.

Monday Morsel: A Wizard’s Folly – An Excerpt from Stalking the Demon


 Above, visible through the glass set in the dome, the sky lit with sudden purple thunder. Could a sound be purple? And yet the entire sky flashed a deep violet as a soundless impact rocked the citadel. The floor tilted beneath their feet, spilling the councillors to the floor in a smattering of indignant shouts and yells.

Alloran grabbed at the council table for support. Another jolt of the earth beneath his feet instead smacked his head hard against the carved timber. Dazed and clutching at his forehead, another huge shaking of the ground sent him staggering across the floor towards a row of seats. He crashed into them and collapsed, clinging to the timber with his one hand. As his fingers closed around the polished length, parts of it simply ceased to exist, and his momentum carried him backwards into the marble tier. His head cracked against stone.

The room swam before his eyes, dividing into two sets of images in which sword wizards and sorceresses whirled and danced in a desperate attempt to stay on their feet. Harlden screamed somewhere in the background, the words incomprehensible through the ringing in Alloran’s ears. The constant shaking of the citadel vibrated him across the floor, and Harlden crawled on all fours.


Behind the lord wizard, a lean black shape sprang from the hell-gate. A sword wizard knelt nearby, his hands braced with flat palms against the marble floor. Before he even had time to reach for a weapon, the demon tore his throat out. Blood sprayed across the white marble.



Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this draft is pre-edits and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. Stalking the Demon is expected to be released late August. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.


If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment for Stalking the Demon.

More about Stalking the Demon:


Alloran lost his hand to thwart his renegade friend–but the world is still going to hell.


Six months after Ladanyon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret–the seven circles of hell are unstable. His worst fear is that the terrible mirror spell cast upon Gisayne has wrought some connection between her and the demon dimensions.


As everything Alloran loves races toward destruction, he does the unthinkable and refuses to obey the council of wizards. The only people who can help him are the two research assistants assigned by the council–but he knows he can’t trust them.


All the answers are locked away in the last place anyone wants to go: hell.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my July Newsletter if you missed it.



Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.


Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Monday Morsel: The Warhammer – An Excerpt from ‘Stalking the Demon’


Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature. Previously I’ve shared short excerpts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead, but from now until its release, I’ll be sharing excerpts from my upcoming novella, Stalking the Demon. This sequel to Confronting the Demon will be the second installment in the Seven Circles of Hell Series.

* * *

Alloran stepped into the room, pushing the door shut behind him, and his gaze fell on the item in Dalvor’s hands; a warhammer.

He strode across and dragged the heavy hammer away from his assistant. The head glowed with the light of infinitesimal runes, predominantly indigo scattered with crimson and pale gold. ‘What do you think you are doing? No one is to work on this except me, or under my direct supervision!’


Dalvor recoiled and blinked up at him. Though the younger man possessed a wizard’s jade green eyes, he always looked like a mole emerging blinking into blazing sunlight. ‘I – I just wanted to study it. These spells, the interlocking runes, the – the way you’ve built layers of magic, hoping to – to find and exploit any weaknesses the hellcats might have is – is – is exquisite.’


The thud of the hammer hitting the surface of Alloran’s workbench cut off Dalvor’s stammering praise.


‘No one but me.’ He glared, enunciating each word with care.




Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. Stalking the Demon is expected to be released in August. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment for Stalking the Demon.

More about Stalking the Demon:


Alloran did everything within his power; he banished the demon and sealed the portal. But the world is still careening into hell.

Six months after the demon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret – the fabric of reality is collapsing, threatening to spill unrestrained demons into the world of Verusia. Is Ladanyon striking back at Alloran from the hell to which he was condemned, or is there a traitor among them?

The only people he can turn to for help deciphering the linked mysteries of Gisayne’s affliction and the collapse of the world are the two research assistants set to spy on him for the council of wizards – but he knows he can’t trust them.

Everything Alloran loves races toward destruction – and all the answers are locked away in hell.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my May Newsletter if you missed it.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

You Must: Love Enough (Part 3) – Free Fantasy Fiction



Welcome back to the third and final installment of Love Enough. If you missed Protestations: Love Enough (Part 1) or Sentenced to Death: Love Enough (Part 2) make sure you check them out first! 

* * * 



‘I am sorry.’ Annael proffered the dagger she’d retrieved from the darkness. A tear trailed its way down her perfect cheek. ‘I do this for you and our son.’

‘But you ask me to wield the knife.’

‘The blade must strike true. No spark of life can remain for them to fan into flame, or you both will die.’

He curled his thick-knuckled hands into helpless fists. ‘I can’t. No matter the reason, I can’t.’

‘You must.’ Annael’s voice lowered, insistent. The lyrical notes tugged at Dagon, luring, seducing, and persuading. Annael had never turned the power of her voice against him, but she did now. 
The gentle persuasion sank into his bones. What she said was right, he must, it was imperative…

‘Don’t!’ He yanked himself free of the soft, seductive glamour.

‘I just –.’

‘I know.’ Reaching out, Dagon stroked his son’s dark hair. Quiet, the baby watched him with huge, sleepy green eyes. Annael’s eyes. Must he spend a lifetime haunted by her ghost?

‘Would you be more at peace if I did?’

‘Yes… no.’ Reluctant, his hand reached for the knife. ‘If I do this thing, I’d rather do it of my own free will.’

‘They’re here.’

High above the stone circle, something moved – a mere hint of shadows on shadows. Only his demon eyes discerned even that much. Annael would sense them inside her head, coming for her.
Ishafal.

‘What… what will they do to you?’

‘Imprisonment, trial, punishment. Execution. They won’t allow me to die until they track down our son. Then they will kill him, out of hand, like the mongrel they believe him to be.’ Her hands tightened on the baby. His green eyes drowsed closed.

Dagon’s breath caught in his throat. ‘Punishment?’

‘Torture, if you will.’ Her shoulders hitched gracefully, as if she were indifferent to hate, but her chest rose and fell in quick, shallow breaths.

Torture. He couldn’t do what she asked to save himself. He couldn’t even do it to save their son. The passion engendered by the ardesco wouldn’t allow it.

But he could do it for her, to save her the suffering.

‘I’ll do it.’

‘You will?’ Her eyes shone liquid in the light of the dying torch, betraying mixed surprise, fear and relief. ‘Quickly. We have little time.’

Annael arranged herself beneath an arch, leaning against one massive pillar. The baby lay asleep in her lap, for lack of an alternative except the muddy ground of a rainy night.

Dagon placed the knife point at her breast and hesitated. ‘Will I see you on the other side of the Curtained Gate?’

Annael leaned forward, heedless of the blade pricking her chest, and kissed him, soft and slow. Her lips tasted sweet against his, and the saltwater tang of her tears brushed his tongue. He savored the taste, let it linger, bittersweet, aware this was the last time he would know the touch of her in this life. A tear slid down his cheek, and another, until they streamed down his face, mingling with the rain. She caught one on her finger, and clutched it to her breast as she lay back against the pillar. The other hand brushed the downy hair of the sleeping child before drawing a blanket gently over the boy’s eyes.

The rustle of wings impervious to rain drifted down out of the dark. A voice echoed in the distance.

‘Hurry.’ Annael’s hand covered his on the hilt of his dagger. Perfect teeth dragged at her bottom lip and she blinked, too quickly. ‘I will see you on the other side, though I pray many years pass before you cross that threshold. Tell our son I loved him… I loved him enough to sacrifice everything.’

Dagon nodded once, jerkily, tears falling so fast her flawless face blurred. He drew a deep, shuddering breath. Was he really about to do this? The image of her broken body and disfigured face flashed through his mind, the tiny infant dead at her feet. He couldn’t.

I must.

He shoved the blade home. Blood spilled over his hand, hot and sticky. Her last breath sighed from her lips. In the depths of his chest, his heart broke with a profound silence. As though a dam burst within, guilt, despair, and agony flooded him. 

The night exploded in screams and voices calling; Ishafal experiencing the sudden passing of Annael, and crying out in anger and grief and triumph, an emotion for every voice.

Dagon stumbled, and fell backwards in the mud. The tears wouldn’t stop. Deep, shaking sobs threatened to tear his frame apart.

The first Ishafal thumped to the ground bare yards away. Dagon skidded to his feet, slipping on muddied grass. Steadying himself, he grabbed the sleeping baby. The child woke, screaming the strident call of a frightened newborn. Another Ishafal landed heavily to the right. Steel gleamed in the flickering torchlight.

With the baby clutched to his chest, adrift in the sea of his own agony, in the tears threatening to drown him, Dagon stumbled blindly towards the torch. The two Ishafal closed on him. His hand seized the rough wood of the torch, and he yanked the brand from the earth, the flame scribing a line of fire through the rainy darkness as he spun.

The Ishafal behind him shrieked, and jerked back. Dagon felt the impact of the torch vibrate up his arm. Flames erupted in tinder-dry feathers. An explosion of light assaulted his eyes.

Dagon spun again, waving the brand and squinting into the brilliance. The flaming Ishafal screamed, the beauty of his voice lost in desperation. Dropping to the ground, he rolled in the mud and the wet grass. Flames engulfed his clothing and the screams escalated to terror. The other Ishafal stared, shocked. More winged people spiraled out of the darkness, racing towards the pyre the Ishafal had become. A few voices lifted in shaky song, a fragmented attempt to douse the flames with the magic of their voices.

Dagon hurled the torch at the back of a singing Ishafal. The song faltered at the second explosion of flame and light, and he spun and fled into the dark. The screams of the burning Ishafal drowned out the distressed cries of the baby. Dagon whispered soothing words, and the wails eased to whimpers.

He ducked under a branch, and ran into the cover of the forest, trying to outrun the Ishafal, the pain, and the blood smearing his hands.

They were distracted by the Ishafal he’d set alight, delayed in order to save them. If he ran fast enough, and far enough, in the dark and the rain, they’d never find him this night.

And then, when he was sure the pursuit was lost, only then would he stop; to grieve, to shed the tears, and to cradle close to him the only thing remaining of the woman he loved.

* * *




**AUTHOR’S NOTE: This fiction piece is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and has not been to an editor.**

 If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my March Newsletter if you missed it.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!